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HOME  > Past issues  > 2019 August 21 - 27  > On-site study of Minamata disease takes place in Kumamoto
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2019 August 21 - 27 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

On-site study of Minamata disease takes place in Kumamoto

August 25 & 26, 2019

An on-site study of the pollution-related Minamata disease to grasp the present situation took place on August 24 and 25 mainly in Minamata City in Kumamoto Prefecture with a total of 880 researchers, medical workers, patients, lawyers, and concerned citizens participating over two days.

They surveyed drains at polluter company Chisso, landfill where pollutants such as organic mercury were buried, and bank protection. They confirmed causes and how the poisoning spread through the Yatsushiro Bay and the Shiranui Sea area.

Mori Masanao, leader of plaintiffs in the second Kumamoto lawsuit, said, "We'd like to summarize and learn lessons from the Minamata disease incident which killed a lot of people and destroyed nature. Still many victims are suffering from ill health. As our responsibility, we won't pass this tragic situation on to the next generations."

Prior to the on-site investigation, Secretary General of a victims' association Nakayama Yuki explained to the participants about the causes of the outbreak of the Minamata disease, saying that the disease sufferers demanding fair and just relief have been fighting against Chisso, the state, the Kumamoto prefectural government, and the Kagoshima prefectural government all of which are eager to underestimate the scope of the damage.

A 23-year-old occupational therapist who took part in the study said, "Now I understand the socioeconomic background of pollution produced as a result of a national policy. I think that the Minamata disease and Fukushima's radioactive contamination occurred in the same context."

On the last day of their study, they held a rally in Izumi City in Kagoshima Prefecture. Iwasaki Akio, vice head of a patients' association called on the participants to increase nationwide public awareness of the need to realize relief for the victims.

At the rally, Sonoda Akihito, chief lawyer of the plaintiffs' legal team in the second Kumamoto lawsuit reported on the lawsuit progress.

Hamasaki Emiko, a 78-year-old plaintiff who lives in Akune City in Kagoshima, cannot have full use of her limbs due to Minamata disease. She said, "I often cannot sleep out of fear of being unable to move and dying. I want no one to experience what has been happening to me."

Japanese Communist Party member of the Lower House Tamura Taka'aki and a representative of the Social Democratic Party local chapter gave speeches in solidarity at the rally.

Past related articles:
> Chisso president retracts his abusive remark concerning Minamata disease [May 19, 2018]
> Minamata disease patients protest against Chisso president’s abusive remark [May 3, 9 and 10, 2018]
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